Comair Flight 3272
A Comair Embraer EMB-120,
similar to the one involved
|Date||January 9, 1997|
|Summary||Atmospheric icing leading to loss of control.|
|Site||Raisinville Township, Michigan, U.S. |
|Aircraft type||Embraer 120 RT Brasilia|
|Operator||Comair (as Delta Connection)|
|Flight origin||Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport|
|Destination||Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport|
Comair Flight 3272 was a Comair flight from Cincinnati to Detroit on Thursday, January 9, 1997. While on approach for landing, the Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia aircraft crashed nose-down 18 miles (29 km) southwest of Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport at 15:54 EST. All 29 aboard, 26 passengers and three crew members, were killed.
Passengers and crew
There were 26 passengers on board the Embraer 120, registered as N265CA. There were two crew members in the cockpit and a flight attendant in the cabin. The captain was Dann Carlsen (age 42), who was in command of Flight 3272 at the time of the crash. He had 5,329 flight hours, including 1,097 hours on the EMB-120. The first officer was Kenneth Reece (29), who was second in command of the aircraft and was the Pilot Flying (PF) on Flight 3272. Reece had 2,582 flight hours, with 1,494 of them on the EMB-120.:6–8
Flight 3272 took off from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport at 14:53. Less than an hour later, the pilots began the approach to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. The air traffic controller instructed the pilots to descend to 4,000 feet (1,220 m) and turn right on a heading of 180 degrees.
About 45 seconds later, the pilots were instructed to turn left onto a heading of 090 degrees to intercept the localizer. During the turn, Captain Carlsen made the statement "Yeah, looks like your low speed indicator," and asked First Officer Reece for increased power to the engines. Almost immediately the aircraft abruptly stalled. It violently rolled 145 degrees to the left, to the right, and back to the left again. The pilots lost control, and Flight 3272 crashed into a rural field in Raisinville Township in Monroe County, killing all 29 aboard.
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause was inadequate standards for icing operations while in flight, specifically the failure of the Federal Aviation Administration to establish adequate minimum airspeeds for icing conditions, leading to a loss of control when the airplane accumulated a thin, rough accretion of ice on its lifting surfaces.
A contributing factor was the decision of the crew to operate in icing conditions while near the lower end of the flight envelope while the flaps were retracted. Comair had not established unambiguous minimum airspeed values for flap configurations and for flight in icing conditions. They also, against recommendation of the planes manufacturer, failed to activate deicing boots on the wings. This was because the Comair Flight manual recommendation was in contravention of the manufacturers due to a concern over "bridging", a concern held-over from older planes that was no longer valid on newer generation planes like the Embraer 120.
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- "Plane crashes in 'ball of fire'; 29 killed". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Knight-Ridder News Service, New York Times, Associated Press. January 10, 1997. p. 1A.
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- Kisonas, Ray (April 18, 2017). "Comair pilots visit crash site". Monroe News. Monroe, Michigan. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
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